Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Flexible Time

So much for the snappy title. I think one of the hardest things for me to deal with in terms of time management is flexible time. By this I don't mean free time, necessarily. I mean time that I have where I could do a variety of fairly important things, but none of them are pressing.

For example, in terms of taking care of my home, I've determined that washing the dishes and keeping up with the laundry are almost essential on a daily basis. (Yeah, I did say, "almost essential." There are ways around doing these things on a daily basis. But they usually don't end up very pretty.) Beyond that, and making dinner, I have a variety of choices. Do I balance the checkbook? Do I vacuum the floors? Do I clean out closets? Do I weed the garden? Or do I drop everything and go for spending "family time" with someone (preferably someone in the family)?

Well, any of you who have tried to take care of a family, or even just your own room, know that there are millions of choices you could make that fall under the umbrella of "Take care of the House" (or "Take Care of My Room," etc.). And that's where I often get stuck. Sure, everything's important, but I don't have time to do all of it today!

Nor should I have to. But, at the same time, I do need to make some progress or I'll never get anywhere.

The same thing goes for writing a book. Once you've written your quota for the day, what do you do? Do you work on promotional activities? Do you write something else? And if you do write something else, what do you write? Should you work on a new book, or churn out an article in hopes that some magazine will pick it up? Or should you post something to your blog? If you've made a name for yourself as a romance author, but you always wanted to write a fantasy, do you try that? Or do you stick with your romances?

Or do you clean out your closets?

That's where goal setting and prioritizing come in. When you know what's most important to you (and it may change sometimes), you're better equipped to make those choices about how to spend that flexible time.

You might take the Franklin Covey approach, where you divide your activities into broad categories of importance and then order them within the categories. Stephen Covey takes it a step further and uses four "quadrants" of importance. I've learned a lot from these systems, but I think Randy Ingermansen has a point in the article below: When you have too many to-do's on your list, it doesn't matter whether an activity is A29 or B32. You're probably not going to get to it today anyway.

Regardless of what planning style you choose, whether you go for the casual approach advocated in the article posted below, or something more formal like the Franklin Covey system, the goal is to move forward. Get the essentials done, and then do more. Maybe only a little bit more. Sometimes even the essentials won't get finished. That's life. But those days when you can stretch and go beyond the essentials--that's when you're really going to move forward.

(Those time management companies ought to pay me for this.)


Anne Bradshaw said...

My head's spinning reading this, Katie :-) Sometimes I simply cannot squeeze one more thing into a day. But that's okay because other days I can. Thank goodness there's always another day, right--at least, most of the time.

Katie Parker said...

Yeah, most of the time.. ;-)

Good point, though. Sometimes it's all we can do to tread water and hang on till we can catch our breath.

Kerry Blair said...

Well SOMEBODY ought to pay you for this, for sure! Great blog, Katie. Thanks.

BTW, did I ever tell you how much I love your book? I ordered another copy just last week to give as a gift. Val was the first to rave about it and, as you know, credentials don't come any better than hers.

Katie Parker said...

Thanks, Kerry! You've made my day...probably my whole week!!

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